Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Love Child

I just ordered books to give for the Secret Santa. I was holding off because I wanted to wait and see who I was buying for -- you know, try to get him/her something I think he/she would like, but I woke this morning on a Secret Santa power trip and decided I don't care what he/she wants, I'm going to give him/her what I think he/she should want. So there. I should be finding out shortly who I'm secret santaing and put an end to all this ridiculous "he/she" nonsense. This person is gonna get lots of books, lucky shim bitch.

Two weeks ago I announced No Tells' Pushcart nominations, and when I was away I learned that Bruce Covey nominated my poem, "Lament for Fronting" for the Pushcart as well. I am grateful to Bruce for all the support and love he's given both my poetry and to me. I'm proud for my poems to appear in Coconut and for my book published by Coconut Books. I happy for opportunity to be able to publish Bruce's poems in No Tell Motel and both his most recent and upcoming books. For two poets to be able to mutually support one another's work in such an extensive fashion is a great gift. When so much of poetry publishing is one-sided, with servant-poet-publishers carrying the bloated, me-me poets who take everyone's cups without ever filling them back, my relationship with Bruce is one of my most precious poetry friendships.

This is my third poem nominated and the fourth year nominating other poems. I don't mean to nix anyone's hopes, but (here I go nixing the hopes) but not a lot of online publications get selected for inclusion -- this isn't limited to Pushcart, it's the same for BAP and other established, honor-bestowing publications. It's this editor's opinion that much of the "best" poetry is being published online -- and by these honor-bestowers putting an overweighted emphasis on print publications, they're missing a gigantic segment of contemporary poetry. I say this as a poet who publishes her work both online and in print. I'm not picking one or the other. Sometimes that confuses folks. If I extoll the virtues of online publications, I'm not damning print. I've read some very good poems on paper.

This oversight of online publications is going to change, sometime, probably embarrassingly late, it's starting to get a bit embarrassing already. This won't be any big favor to the online magazines, they're going along just fine, doing exactly what they intend and reaching many new readers in the process. These online magazines don't need the legitimacy, an "illegitimate" child is still a child, right? Some even grow up and do amazing things.

When these honor-bestowing publications begin to better acknowledge the work being published online, it'll be their long-needed correction and step towards balance. It'll be good for them.

For now, the Pushcart nominations are going to have to be the honor for the poems that statistically are going to be overlooked at a ridiculously high rate. It's an honor for an editor to select one's poem for publication, it's an added honor for that poem to be nominated for something additional over all the poems selected for publication by that editor. Let's not forget that. Let's not confuse recognition and honor with "winning" -- as if poetry is some sort of competition.

Recently a stranger informed me that his friends consider me to be mean and vampy, and my DIY act is just vanity publishing that reeks of desperation. He further said that my past inclusion in BAP and places like The American Poetry Review proves me disingenuous and wanting nothing more than to be mainstream and invited to the parties by those I mock. Well, I never mocked BAP, APR and I'm not mocking Pushcart or any other publication that is trying to promote poetry. I believe one should be gracious when bestowed with an honor. If you admire the work published by a big, "mainstream" publication, then of course you submit your work to them! I have also recently sent work to New American Writing and The Chicago Review because I admire what they're doing. I am not sending to places like The Paris Review, Poetry and The New Yorker because, well, I just don't care for what appears on those pages. But I would never mock anyone who sent work to those places if they admired the poetry published there. I would (and do) mock those who send for contrived status purposes -- maybe believing in the existence and hoping for an invitation to these so-called parties.

What I most mock are contests that charge fees for a chance to be published. I don't think they do a very good job promoting poetry and believe there's much better ways to use that money to create, promote and distribute books, to support both poets and poems. To me, paying somebody money to consider (i.e. read) your work is desperate. Let's be perfectly honest with ourselves, ALL publishing is vanity on some level. Poets are consistently vain, self-centered individuals. I never claimed to be an exception.

And WTF? What parties exactly am I hoping to be invited to? Everybody knows I'M THE PARTY.



At 1:55 PM, Blogger Collin Kelley said...

I was pleased to be nominated but have no expectation of winning. And I don't care. If only every poet felt that way, the poetry community would be a much better place.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Amy said...

tagged you for a me-eme, nya nya nya nya nyaaah!

(it's an easy one. see my 12/09 post)

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Radish King said...


At 8:38 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

Maybe a Pushcart-Prize-like website that presents the Best of the web?

Yet I wish I liked the Pushcart anthologies themselves better. 'Course, that's true of BAP, too. I like the idea of them. And their existence is better than their absence, I tend to think. They could use some company.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Glenn, there is:

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

Thanks for the link. I'll look that over.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger 32poems.com said...

Drat, you mean getting published somewhere doesn't mean I'll get invited to the cool parties. Why didn't you tell me this before!?


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